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“It’s a hidden war and when they call in the troops its already too late.”  These are the opening words to a story that takes us into a private battlefield, where thousands of women live in fear in the one place they should feel safe – their home. In a personal form of terrorism,  domestic violence killed more Canadian women in a ten-year period than all our troops killed in Afghanistan.

blonde woman looks at arm with tattoo that says CelesteCristin Hepting, a friend of Celeste Yawney

The murder of Celeste Yawney, an abuse counselor at a woman’s shelter in Regina, was striking for its irony.  Her boyfriend was charged with murder, and it was not the first time he had been arrested for assaulting her.  Why would a woman with her knowledge and support be so vulnerable? The answer, according to women survivors is simple: because it can happen to anybody, including friends and neighbors of Celeste herself.  

Across Canada, a woman is killed every six days by her intimate partner.  3,000 more flee their homes each night, seeking refuge in our shelters.   Social stigma and a broken justice system leave the perpetrators nearly unaccountable, and re-victimize women who try to get out.   Yet people still ask, “why didn’t she just leave?”  For survivors of domestic violence, these words cut the deepest. 

The War at Home takes us into their world.

two women behind computerGalit Menahem and Pamila Bhardwaj

Lara, a health care professional, is still trying to escape her marriage.  She lives with fear, and her life is a battleground of Criminal and Family Court hearings, yet she is one of the lucky ones – represented by a unique law firm in Toronto.    Galit Menahem, who started the firm with her partner Pamila Bhardwaj, is a survivor herself.   What they experience, in a legal system stacked against them, is echoed by Nneka MacGregor and a group of women survivors who monitor our courts domestic assault cases. 

SCENE FROM THE FILM: Nneka MacGregor and other domestic abuse survivors document details into a database to expose patterns.

With no national strategy to prevent violence against women, their battle is epic.

Firsthand, up-close and personal, these brave women let us into their world as they find the courage to speak out, and fight back.

Produced and directed by Emmy Award winning filmmaker Shelley Saywell.

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